Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Emergency crews investigate a small-engine plane crash at the Collegedale Municipal Airport on Friday, April 20, 2018, in Collegedale, Tenn.

Updated at 11:54 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018.

UPDATE April 21 at 2:12 p.m.: The man killed in the plane crash Friday evening has been identified as Robert Gillisse, 62, of Ooltewah. 


One person was killed early Friday evening in a single-engine plane crash at the Collegedale Municipal Airport.

Airport officials said the pilot, who has yet to be identified by authorities, was alone and taking off when the two-seat plane crashed a couple dozen yards off the airstrip. Emergency responders at the scene put up sheets over a portion of the crash as the body was removed later Friday.

"It's always sad when something like this happens," said Chris Swain, director of operations at the airport.

Previous crashes at the Collegedale Airport:

September 2014: Don Edens was killed when his plane crashed in a nearby field as a result of equipment failure.

March 2013: Local resident David Richardson, 77, fell out of an aircraft and was killed after the canopy came loose in flight. The instructor pilot landed the plane.

December 2012: Clarence Andrews, 82, of Signal Mountain, crashed his home-built aircraft and died.

December 2004: A single-engine plane crashed but the lone pilot walked away.

December 2004: Five leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tennessee and Georgia died when their twin-engine plane crashed just after takeoff.

Details are limited about the circumstances behind the crash, but this is not the first fatal incident at the Collegedale airport. Five other planes have crashed at the airport since 2004 resulting in 11 fatalities.

Three of those deaths came in a particularly tragic incident in 2016 when a pilot tried to recover from a botched landing just before hitting the ground, according to a report compiled by the National Transportation Safety Board. The pilot, Todd Silver, was killed along with his mother and his son. His daughter was seriously injured but survived.

The Times Free Press reported previously that a flight instructor who was flying with a student nearby witnessed the crash. He told NTSB investigators that he saw the plane coming in on a short final approach.

The plane made a climbing turn to the left near the departure end of the runway, about 100 feet off the ground, and then made a steep bank to the right with the nose pulled high.

During that turn, the plane's nose dropped and the whole aircraft rotated as it rapidly descended into the ground.

The plane then slammed into the ground, leaving a 70-foot-long scar in the ground, according to the NTSB.

Swain said both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified about Friday's crash and investigators were expected to work through the night to unpack what happened.